Interlocking stonework involves the use of concrete or naturally cut paving stones to create strong and diverse patterns. If installed properly these patterns create strength and cohesion without depending on mortar to keep them locked tight.
Interlocking stone has been around for thousands of years. The Romans used stones to build roads, courtyards and terraces that are still intact today. They also used large stones to build retaining walls all across Europe using techniques that are still applied today. These techniques are the foundation of modern day interlocking stone and retaining wall installation methods.
Here in Canada our extreme weather as well as various soil types around the GTA are main factors we look out for when preparing our base and sub-base. Another factor is the compaction rate around the perimeter of your home. Often times, during the building process, foundation wall trenches are back filled with chunks of clay, pieces of concrete, bricks and even garbage along with the soil. This creates voids that eventually fill with excess water and freeze in the winter. This process repeats itself every year and creates an unpredictable foundation to build on. That is why the compaction of the sub-base, the drainage as well as the use of the proper base materials and geotextile fabric is essential to creating the proper foundation for your pavers and/or retaining walls and steps to rest on.
Depending on the soil type and water retention of the area, the depth we dig and the type of gravel will differ. For example; if the area we are working with is prone to excess water due to surrounding areas elevation we may use clear gravel and create a drainage system so water stays away from out foundation.
When dealing with suitable soil and proper elevation however we would use granular A gravel compacted as our base material.
The depth of our base materials will depend on traffic. Where a patio or walkway may get a light traffic l, a driveway usually gets heavy traffic ie; cars, moving trucks etc.. the type of traffic as well as the load ur pavers will receive will determine how deep the foundation is dug and how much material is used to backfill.
When installing pavers we are usually dealing with a big surface area. Therefore the foundation depth and compaction as well as the slope of the base must be consistent throughout so that pavers stay even over time and the water drains appropriately. After the base is set, the bedding layer is installed. Typically the bedding layer is between 1-1.5” thickness. This layer will be were the pavers rest so it must be levelled perfectly to ensure the drainage and evenness of the final product.
It’s also very important to apply polymeric sand to the joints of the pavers to ensure extra strength of pavers, inhibit weed growth and also limit the amount of water that can penetrate through the pavers into the base and sub base.
When building steps we take into consideration the stress that is put on the foundation. Particularly with natural stone steps due to extra weight we will often recommend a concrete foundation with footings below frost level to ensure no movement will occur.
Steps are also prone to water retention. Therefore extra care must be taken to ensure excess water cannot enter and disrupt the steps foundation.
When building retaining walls. Depending on the height the retaining wall will reach, the application of Geogrid will be necessary. Geogrid is a synthetic material used to reinforce soil and aggregate materials. They are commonly used to reinforce retaining walls by strengthening the aggregate behind the wall therefore decreasing the lateral stress that is put on it.
Applying clear gravel and a drainage pipe is also necessary to ensure excess water weight does not put stress on the wall and water always has somewhere to escape and keep the foundation unsaturated with water.
When building landscape structure like pergolas, pavilions, fireplaces and bbq units a concrete foundation is always necessary. These structures must sit on solid footings that are below frost level so that no movement occurs and they stand the test of time. A building permit and engineered specifications are usually required with these structures. Our team is experienced in this process and will help guide you through it from start to finish.